Homeland Security

Number of Terror Deaths Falls in Europe, But Rises in U.S. and Canada

The latest Global Terrorism Index, released annually by the Institute for Economics & Peace, marks the third consecutive year of improvement in terms of fewer deaths and a lower price tag on terror’s global economic impact.

Terrorism deaths peaked in 2014, the height of ISIS’ caliphate, and dropped 22 percent in 2016. In 2017, deaths due to terrorism fell 27 percent: 18,814 deaths worldwide, spanning 67 countries.

Overall, terrorism deaths in Europe plummeted 75 percent last year even though terror incidents were up, with marked improvements in Germany, Belgium and France but a worse situation in Spain, which registered the greatest deterioration in the index along with Angola. Far-right terrorism is on the rise in western Europe and North America, though, with 59 attacks and 17 deaths in 2017.

The most active new terror group last year was Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham — al-Qaeda in Syria — responsible for 177 deaths.

The cost of terrorism — including deaths, injuries, GDP loss, and property damage — was $52 billion in 2017, a 42 percent drop from 2016.

The top 10 countries most impacted by terrorism — which accounted for 84 percent of global terror deaths in 2017 — are Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, Congo, Central African Republic, and India. Terror deaths in Somalia shot up 93 percent, due in large part to the October 2017 Mogadishu truck bombing that killed 587 people.

Burma, with 166 terrorism deaths, and the Philippines, with 50, both reached record highs in 2017.

Terror index scores for both the United States and Canada deteriorated last year as “North America is the region with the second-highest average impact of terrorism in 2017.” Terror deaths increased on the continent for the fourth-straight year, to 85 in 2017.

“The majority of terrorist activity in North America has taken place in the U.S., which had 95 percent of deaths from terrorism and 88 percent of total terrorist attacks from 2002 to 2017. North America has had a higher proportion of attacks directed at infrastructure than other regions, owing to attacks by ecoterrorist organizations,” states the report. “However, these attacks were not responsible for any deaths. In the past decade there has been very little activity from eco-terrorist groups, with a concurrent change in the predominant type of terrorism. Most attacks in the past decade have been either armed assaults, or bombings or explosions.”

“Although the majority of deaths from terrorism in North America since the turn of the century have been related to Jihadist groups, there has been a resurgence of far-right political terrorism in the past few years,” it continues. “In 2017, white power extremists were responsible for nine attacks and seven deaths in North America. The most notable terror attack committed by white extremists in 2017 occurred in August 2017 during the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, North Virginia, during which a white extremist drove a car into a crowd and killed one person. In October 2018, a white power extremist shot and killed eleven people at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Canada experienced six terror-related deaths in 2017, all of which were the result of an armed assault at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City by a right-wing extremist.”

France has experienced the highest number of deaths attributed to ISIS from 2013-17, with the U.S. coming in second. ISIS accounts for 46 percent of terrorism deaths recorded over the past 15 years; while ISIS deaths fell 52 percent last year, they remain the world’s deadliest terror group.

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